New York water. What about Lompoc? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

The thread about New York residents storing water, with the accompanying news stories makes me wonder what anywhere else is telling the public. In my town, Chico, everything is officially hunkydory and "they" have their contingency plans in place. Residents won't notice a thing when the clock rolls over.

The New York articles seem to be more forthcoming about their plans and details, whereas Chico and Butte County, the officials seem to have the idea that if they mention a scary scenario the public will instantly jam the supermarkets or do other panic driven things.

What's the word from Lompoc, or any other town?

-- johno (, November 27, 1999


It wouldn't take a complete crash of the system and loss of water pressure to create a crisis. All it takes in some water systems is for the wrong chemicals to be added. Then you either get outbreaks of disease (too little chlorination?) or undrinkable water (too much.) If a major city has this problem, it's not going to be pretty.

What was the city that had a cryptosporidium (sp?) outbreak a couple of years back? Weren't something like 100,000 people hit with severe diarrhea? Was it due to a failure in water processing?

-- You Know... (notme@nothere.junk), November 27, 1999.

johno--You and I are in the same county. Sheriff MacKenzie has purchased generators and food for his deputies and their family. Don't you feel better now? Lucky's/Albertson's handed out the Red Cross Ready Pak Y2K tape to their customers, doesn't that make you feel better?

BTW, you may want to get this article for your files regarding PG&E from the Contra costa Times, Thursday, November 25, 1999, Page A4 "Girl Dies of carbon monoxide poisoning." There was a faulty wall heater, and upon further investigation, the apartment complex had to be evaucated because several of the heaters in the 105 apartment complex had faulty wall heaters. Because PG&E's rate case was denied recently, free services such as inspecting heaters, furnaces and water heaters for safety will no longer be available to the public. Local PG&E offices will likely be closed and tree trimming sevices will be eliminated. Due to deregulation, anyone can sign up with whatever electric service provider they wish, but PG&E still maintains the system.

-- bardou (, November 27, 1999.

If you get water with too much chlorine in it, agitate it and let it sit for at least 24 hours in an open container. Chlorine in water evaporates fairly quickly. Shaking a container of water adds oxygen to the water, which may help the chlorine to evaporate. But too much chlorine is preferable to too little, I would guess, if the possibility of bacterial contamination was present.

-- Liz Pavek (, November 27, 1999.

"What was the city that had a cryptosporidium (sp?) outbreak a couple of years back? Weren't something like 100,000 people hit with severe diarrhea? Was it due to a failure in water processing?"

That would be Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The outbreak was in the spring of '94. More than 400,000 became ill, more than 100 died (mostly AIDS, cancer, and transplant patients with weakened immune systems).

The immediate cause was a slight change in the amount of clorine and other chemicals being added to the water. The purpose of the change was to try to reduce the acidity of the water, which had been climbing for several years probably due to acid rain. The excess acidity was leaching too much lead from the old service pipes that run from the mains to residences in older parts of the city, causing wide-spread low level lead poisoning.

The filter beds at the water treatment plants did not react well to the chemical change, and effectively stopped filtering the small crypto cysts and other small particles. The filter beds are huge, swimming pool sized, containers with many feet of sand, gravel, and charcoal. The water is poured on the top, percolates through, and is removed at the bottom. The tap water was noticeably cloudy while this was going on.

Periodically, the filter beds are back-flushed. Water is pumped into the bottom under pressure to remove the trapped particles and clean away the scum that accumulates on the top. In most cities, the back-flush water is drained away through the sewer system. In Milwaukee, most of it was sent back through the filters for drinking water.

Clorine, in the amounts added to drinking water, will not kill crypto. The organisms need to be mechanically filtered, and/or treated with iodine, ozone, or other effective materials. In most cities, mechanical filtration is relied on.

Crypto and similar organisms are present in small amounts in most surface water. The extremely high numbers of the organisms present in Milwaukee's drinking water that spring were initially attributed to snow melt runoff and heavy spring rains, that flushed the bugs into the area rivers from cattle feed lots and farms. Later, it was found that the strain present in Milwaukee water had a human source, and likely infiltrated the water system through the proximity (less than two miles) of the municipal sewage treatment outlet, and the main water inlet, in Lake Michigan. The direction of the normal water currents in the lake had changed that spring, due to unusual weather, carrying the treated sewage output direcly to the water inlet. Normal sewage treatment methods also do not kill crypto.

The crypto organism is still found througout the nooks and crannies of the water system in Milwaukee. Whenever there is a water main break or other incident that causes reduced pressure in part of the system, reinfection becomes a concern, and boiling water becomes mandatory for people in the affected area.

The effects on the crisis were rather interesting. The health care system was completely overwhelmed. Extremely long waits in emergency rooms and shortages of hospital beds were experienced. It didn't help that a large number of health care workers were themselves incapacitated by the disease. Bottled water of any type was impossible to find for most people; many people drive sixty or more miles to get bottled water at inflated prices, which obviously is beyond the means of many people.

Lessons for Y2K: these are lots of vulnerabilities in municipal water systems. Safe water depends on a fine balance between many systems, and even a short breakdown or abnormality in one of these systems can have catastrophic consequences that are not noticed for quite a while.

Simply treating or filtering drinking water is not enough. You must also be careful about consuming uncooked food, such as salads, fruits, and vegetables, that may have been washed with contaminated water.

-- Jerry Heidtke (, November 27, 1999.

Hey, I grew up in Chico, and my DGI parents and my brother still live there. I hope everything is hunky-dory, because they're not doing a damn thing. I've quit talking to them about it.

BTW, they're bigshots at Enloe hospital. I've asked them repeatedly about the Y2K efforts there, but I can't get a real response. It doesn't matter. If the hospital isn't toast, Medicare and Medicaid is, and Butte County is one of the poorest counties in California.

Got your own medical kit?

-- Dog Gone (, November 27, 1999.

Dog Gone--I don't know anything about Enloe Hospital's Y2K readiness, they like to keep those things secret in tight-knit communities such as ours. Sheriff MacKenzie is located in Oroville and so is the jail, so you can see why he wants the generators as a backup. Your right about Butte being one of the poorest counties around when it comes to Medicare and Medicade, but so is Yuba and Sutter counties. They're up a creek without a paddle, we shall see.

For those of you who are PG&E natural gas customers, they will come out and check your gas appliances free of charge. They will make sure that your appliances are working properly and in a safe manner. Tell your friends and loved ones about this free service, it could save their lives.

-- bardou (, November 27, 1999.

Absolutely. Do it now. If you wait and get put on a 5-week waiting list, it might be much longer than that.

-- Dog Gone (, November 27, 1999.

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